Two days into training camp, Suns coach Monty Williams was clearly sold on his new, second-year point guard. Jevon Carter arrived this summer in an unheralded trade between the Grizzlies and Suns that shipped Josh Jackson out of Phoenix and freed up cash for the Suns to bring their current starting point guard, Ricky Rubio, on board.
Through four games this season, Carter has played like much more than a throw-in in a move that served as a way to save some money. He’s cemented himself as the Suns backup point guard, playing just under 24 minutes per night behind Rubio and averaging 10 points, 3.3 assists, 2.5 rebounds, and, of course, 1.3 steals per game.
“He’s a dog,” Williams said. “He eats rocks.”
Carter entered the NBA after a career of terrorizing opposing point guards with hellacious defense at West Virginia and promptly became the most feared man on the workout circuit. No one wanted to deal with that while trying to show their value as a prospect, because they knew Carter was going to make it incredibly difficult to shine in a workout.
This reputation has followed him around for some time. Carter recognized back when he was a three-star prospect ranked No. 299 in his recruiting class by 247Sports’ Composite rating that defense could be the thing that makes him unique from other young guards.
“Probably my senior year of high school,” Carter said. “Senior year of high school I knew I had to be different. Everybody is known for being able to score, so me being different, I was like, ‘I’m just going to give it my all on the defensive end and see how good I can get at it.'”
He got good enough at it to be taken with the 32nd overall pick by Memphis despite having an offensive profile that didn’t leap off the page. The Grizzlies seemed to be a perfect fit, as you couldn’t construct a prospect that embodied Grit ‘N Grind better than him. Instead of getting consistent run, though, Carter played sparingly in his first year behind Mike Conley.
While the Grizzlies appeared like an ideal philosophical fit, Phoenix has proven to be a far better situation for Carter. The Suns’ point guard situation was dire last year, and while they remedied that with the signing of Rubio, they desperately needed depth. It also helped his cause that Williams, who the Suns hired to take over as their head coach during the offseason, wanted a tone setter.